Hakkoda Ropeway to Yakeyama, the Prelude to Oirase Gorge

While you might know of or have been to the beautiful Oirase Gorge, but did you know that there are other scenic spots in the area such as Hakkoda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー) or Tsuta-Numa Pond (蔦沼)? Read on to find out more!

To get to Oirase Gorge through public transport, you can either take a bus from JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) throughout the year or from JR Aomori 青森駅 and Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) between mid-April to mid-November (as the services terminate at  Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉) in winter for this line). If you choose to travel down south from Aomori, then the JR bus will definitely take you straight to the Hakkoda Ropeway (in winter as well)!

Before we go into too much detail, below is a list of attractions in the area!

Hakkoda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー)

Ropeways are not cheap to build and if there is a ropeway built at a location, the scenery from the ropeway is bound to be amazing. Not only is the Hakkoda Ropeway known for its great view, but they are also known for its skiing and snowboarding courses from the Summit Station (山麓・山頂駅) (=゚ω゚)ノ.

For Ropeway’s business hours, timetable and fares, please refer to their official website HERE.

After you reach the top of the mountain, before going back down to continue your trip to Oirase Gorge, there are a few trekking courses that you can always stroll around to explore the area more closely (*’▽’).

Please refer to THIS LINK for the official trek/hike courses map!

Hakkoda Ropeway Aomori Japan Autumn
Photo from Aomori prefecture

If you want to know more about the Hakkoda area and what to expect when you visit Hakkoda Ropeway each season, please refer to their brochure HERE!

Hakkoda Ropeway Aomori Japan Winter With Snow Monsters
Photo from Aomori prefecture

The snow season at Hakkoda usually commences from the end of November through to mid-May. There are several courses with various levels of difficulty that you can take.

Apart from the rime on trees in Hakkoda, you will also be enjoying the scenery of Tsugaru (津軽), Shimokita Peninsulas (下北両半島) and even Hokkaido (北海道) as you ski or snowboard (but still pay close attention to what is in front of you. We really don’t want your Japan trip to end up with you in the hospital).

Tips: if you are interested in the snow monsters (trees that are glazed with snow and ice, morphing them into strange monster looking figures – like those that are shown in the photo) in Mt. Hakkoda, visit the Hakkoda Ropeway in January or February (^_-)-☆.

Please click HERE for more information about the ski/snowboard courses at Hakkoda.

Ski/Snowboard Equipment Rental

Apparently, you can get a cheaper price if you pay in cash. Please refer to the price tables HERE (cash payment) or HERE (credit card payment) on the official website.

Important: if you are heading to Hakkoda for activities other than boarding the ropeway, please read through the rules HERE for your own sake!

Autumn Foliage and Snow Season at Hakkoda

The autumn foliage season around Hakkoda usually occurs around mid-October, but if you want to see the autumn foliage at the top of the mountains, you will want to aim for early-Oct instead.

From late October, the snow season begins (albeit as the earth gets warmer, we might not get the first snow until somewhere in November…).

How to Get to Hakkoda Ropeway

  • From Aomori (approx. 60 mins travel time):
    To get to Hakkoda Ropeway, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō (みずうみ号) from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop #11 or the bus stop #1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉) (approx. 15 mins travel time):
    To get to Hakkoda Ropeway, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō (みずうみ号)
  • From Lake Towada (only available between mid-Apr to mid-Nov) (approx. 125 mins travel time):
    To get to Hakkoda Ropeway, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō (みずうみ号) from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Once you get on the bus, please keep track of your destination stop as you will need to get off at Hakkoda Ropeway (ロープウェー駅前) (‘ω’)ノ.

For timetable and bus fare, please refer to JR Bus’s official website HERE from mid-April to mid-November. For winter’s timetable, please refer HERE. The website is in Japanese. For the timetable, please refer to the 2nd tab – 時刻表. For bus fare, please refer to the 3rd tab – 料金表. If you are still experiencing some issues, you can always contact us HERE and we will get back to you.

Tips:
☛ If you have luggage or bags that you don’t want to take with you as you trek around the Summit Station (山麓・山頂駅窓口), you can check-in your belongings at the Summit Station for 200 yen per bag.
☛ If you are holding a JR pass covering the Aomori prefecture, it is free for you to board any JR buses in the region!
☛ From spring to autumn, the Aomori, Hachinohe, Lake Towada Free ticket (青森・八戸・十和田湖フリーきっぷ) is on sale. For more information about the ticket, please refer to Oirase Gorge’s access information.
☛ During winter time where the JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō terminates at Sukayu Onsen, if you are planning a day trip from Aomori to Hakkoda Ropeway, Jokagura Onsen (城ヶ倉温泉) or Sukayu Onsen, you can utilise the Hakkoda 1 day free ticket (八甲田1Dayフリーきっぷ) which will save you at least 240 yen. The 2,000 yen ticket can be purchased from your bus driver or bus ticket vending machine from the JR Bus Ticker office at JR Aomori Station. The tickets will also get you discounts at the Ropeway as well as Sukayu Onsen and Jokagura Onsen!

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Jogakura Onsen (城ヶ倉温泉)

Jogakura Onsen Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Jogakura Onsen is a European-style onsen resort located between Hakkoda Ropeway and the beautiful Oirase Gorge.

If your itinerary isn’t so packed, why not enjoy a few hours of trekking or even hiking from the Summit Station of the Hakkoda Ropeway and spend the night there? This would be the place to unwind and rest your tired feet so that you will be full of energy as you explore Oirase Gorge the next day!

Apart from their really delicious dinner and breakfast (with ingredients sourced freshly and locally), their outdoor onsen facility can also be enjoyed throughout the year!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to bathe within the virgin beech forest surrounded by the light green in spring and summer, vibrant autumn leaves in autumn, and pure-white snow in winter?

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also refer to the below information that may be useful in the event you decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ

About Jogakura Onsen

  • There is a free pick-up service from the police station in front of JR Aomori Station departing at 3:30 pm each day. If you require this service, please reserve 3 days in advance
  • There are also free pick-up and drop-off services to and from Sukayu Onsen and Jogakura Bridge. Please let the resort know when you would like to be picked up and dropped off
  • If you enjoy stargazing, there is equipment that the resort may rent out to their guests. Please check with the reception on the day for more information and its availability
  • The resort provides a backcountry ski tour, but you will need to hold basic Japanese skills to participate
  • There are no private onsen facility available
  • Not all room types have shower facility equipped
  • There are washing machines and dryers available if you need them (not free though)

Tips: if you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Jogakura Bridge (城ヶ倉大橋)

Jogakura Bridge is located just 30 minutes walk from Jogakura Onsen (but if you stay at Jogakura Onsen, the resort will provide free pick-up and drop-off services).

With 255 meters in length, the Bridge is the longest arch bridge in Japan (‘ω’)ノ.

From the Bridge, you will get a panoramic view of the mountains around you. The spot is particularly famous for its autumn foliage, ranking within the top 5 in North-Eastern Japan!

The winter wonderland bridge view is another reason why so many people love this bridge (*´ω`).

Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture
Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan Winter
Photo from https://www.photo-ac.com/

Hakkoda Snow Corridor (八甲田雪の回廊)

If a visit to a snow corridor is on your bucket list, instead of going to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route‘s snow corridor (which is usually packed with people), why not visit the snow corridor close to Sukayu Onsen instead?

As the road connecting Hakkoda Hotel (八甲田ホテル) to Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉) is closed during the winter, the 10 meters tall snow corridor will be the unintended product of preparation before the road is opened for traffic again from April each year!

Hakkoda Snow Corridor Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

The best time to visit the corridor is in early Apr. But even during Golden Week at the beginning of May, the snow wall will still be approximately as tall as you are (^_-)-☆

How to Get to the Hakkoda Snow Corridor

To get to the snow corridor, if you are using public transport, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi (みずうみ号) and get off at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉). From there, head for National Highway 103 (国道103号線) towards Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉). It shouldn’t take you too long before you see the corridor!

  • From Aomori:
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop #11 or the bus stop #1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Lake Towada (only accessible from mid-Apr to mid-Nov):
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉)

Sukayu Onsen Aomori Japan Autumn
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Another popular destination between the Hakkoda Ropeway and Oirase Gorge is Sukayu Onsen.

Sukayu Onsen is probably most famously known for its mixed-gender onsen – Hiba Senin Furo (ヒバ千人風呂). And yes, when we say mixed-gender, it is a public bathing facility that both genders can use at the SAME TIME Σ(゚Д゚).

The Unique Onsen Experience at Sukayu Onsen

If you are looking for memories that will last you a lifetime, this might be the one that you want to challenge yourself with…(albeit that there are areas that are female-only without barriers).

Sukayu Onsen does understand that the mixed-gender onsen isn’t for everyone. So for our female friends, between 8 to 9 o’clock in the morning and evening, you can enjoy the Hiba Senin Furo without the presence of any male guests. Other than these time slots, although not as big as the Hiba Senin Furo, the Tama no Yu (玉の湯) is another single-gender onsen facility for anyone who is not comfortable sharing onsen with the opposite sex.

Sukayu Onsen Hiba Senin Furo Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Important: each of the onsen pools at Sukayu Onsen has a different temperature and acidity. One of them called Nettō (熱湯) has an acidity of pH1.7. Due to the strong acidity, you may want to bathe in there for only 5 – 10 minutes.

Before you head off and prepare to warm up in onsen, it will be a good idea to check with the hotel if they have a guide that will indicate how long an individual should be spending their time in the onsen.

Regardless of Sukayu Onsen’s unique bathing system, the sulfur-based onsen is said to be quite effective for those with various physical disorders such as muscle pain, joint pain, and poor circulation (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Tips: if you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The Origin of Sukayu Onsen

Sukayu Onsen Aomori Japan Winter
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Sukayu Onsen was discovered approximately 300 years ago. At the time, it was called “Shika-yu 鹿湯”.

The Onsen was found by a hunter who saw shika (deers) healing their wounds with the onsen. From this, the onsen was then called Shika-yu.

After its discovery, because of the high acidity of onsen water, the name became Suka-yu 酸ヶ湯 (the “su” has the meaning of acid in Japanese).

Tips: if you are coming from Aomori and want to stay overnight at Sukayu Onsen, book their free pickup and drop-off services in advance (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The hotel is currently able to pick up its guests from the Auga Parking Lot (アウガ駐車場) close to JR Aomori Station from 10:15 am and 2 pm. The drop-off back to the same location from Sukayu Onsen departs the hotel at 8:50 am and 12:30 pm.

Travel time between JR Aomori Station and Sukayu Onsen is approximately 60 mins.

Events at Sukayu Onsen

At Sukayu Onsen, various guide tours are scheduled depending on the reason. For more information on what’s on and the exact dates the tours are on, please refer to the announcement on their website HERE (as the website is in Japanese if you need any assistance, please contact us HERE and we will get back to you). The tour guide can speak English, so you can still participate in the tour even if you don’t understand Japanese (‘ω’)ノ.

  • Show shoe Hiking in Jan &Feb
  • Snow corridor trekking in late Mar to the beginning of Apr
  • Trekking in summer months

Important: Please also note that the tour bookings are to be made at the hotel’s reception (usually at least 1 day in advance). The tours are not free of charge even if you stay overnight at the hotel.

How to Get to Sukayu Onsen

Please take the JR Bus Mizuumii-Gō (みずうみ号) and get off at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉).

  • From Aomori:
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumii-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop #11 or the bus stop #1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Lake Towada (only accessible from mid-Apr to mid-Nov):
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Sukayu Onsen Campsite (酸ヶ湯キャンプ場)

If you are visiting the area during the summer months, the Sukayu Campsite will be operating between late June to late-October. Please refer to their website HERE. Again, the website is in Japanese so if you need any assistance, please contact us HERE and we’ll get back to you (‘ω’)ノ

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

The Picturesque Ponds Between Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen

Suiren-Numa Pond Aomori Japan Autumn

In between the Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen (more details below), you will find nine unique ponds (or swamps if you like) that definitely worth a visit (=゚ω゚)ノ. Among the nine, six of them are even linked by a promenade!

To plan your visit to those gorgeous ponds, please refer to our article HERE (^_-)-☆

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan (蔦温泉旅館)

This traditional Japanese Ryokan isn’t only just conveniently located close to the famous Tsuta-numa pond, its biggest attraction is its onsen pool which is directly built above the source of the onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ.

So unlike most of the onsen pools in Japan, you will see a lot of bubbles coming right from the bottom of the pool, which we think is quite exciting!

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Onsen Pool
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Tsuta Onsen currently has two bathing areas. The Kyuan no Yu (久安の湯) is the area that you may want to watch out for because each gender for use is allocated to specific timeslots. Please check with the reception for the timeslots to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments…(´▽`*).

What to Watch out for Before You Make Your Booking

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Aomori Japan Gustroom
Photo from Aomori prefecture

There are quite a few different types of rooms at Tsuta Onsen. Some are equipped with western bedding and some only have Japanese futon.

The other thing to note is that before you book, there are only 3 room types (with the luxurious ones containing a private bath). So if you don’t want to share your relaxing bathing time with strangers, you may consider reserving the luxurious ones (‘ω’)ノ.

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also find below information that may be useful if you do decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ

About Tsuta Onsen

  • Tsuta Onsen is closed between late November to end of March.
  • There is a free pick-up service from the police station in front of JR Aomori Station departing at 3:30 pm each day. If you require this service, please reserve 3 days in advance. The hotel bus will stop at Hotel Jogakura first and you will be looking to arrive at Tsuta Onsen at around 16:50. This service is only available between mid-Apr to late-Nov.
  • There is also free pick-up (at 3 pm) and drop-off (at 9:30 am) services to and from Shichinohe Towada Station (七戸十和田駅). The meeting point is at the Shichinohe Town Tourism Information Center (七戸町観光交流センター) located at the station’s south exit.
  • If you want to be surrounded by fireflies, you should consider visiting Tsuta Onsen in July.
  • Please don’t bring in food when you stay at Tsuta Onsen. Bringing your own drinks will be allowed, but this will incur extra charges.
  • If you want to have lunch at Tsuta Onsen, the restaurant is opened between 11:30 am to 2 pm (last order at 1:30 pm).
  • There is currently no private onsen facility available

Tips: if you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

How to Get to Tsuta Onsen Ryokan

From mid-April to mid-November, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop #11 or bus stop #1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit and get off at Tsuta-Numa.

If you are visiting the area in winter, you will have to drive, unfortunately…

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Yakeyama (焼山)

Yakeyama Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

Yakeyama area is said to be the entrance (or the goal if you are coming from Lake Towada) to Oirase Gorge. Depending on how you want to organise your itinerary, you may want to stay at one of the hotels at the Oirase Gorge Onsen (previously known as Lake Towada Onsen Town, but the name got changed in mid-2020 so that people won’t get confused or get mixed up with the location of the town as Lake Towada is actually 14 km away (´▽`*)).

Oirase Stream Gifts and Restaurant (渓流の駅おいらせ)

If you are hungry or want to get some fresh fruits (the famous Aomori apples), Oirase Stream Gifts & Restaurant is a good place to stop by.

Here, you can find a variety of apples sourced locally from Aomori prefecture. There is even a table available that you can refer to for the sweetness and crunchiness of each different type of apple on sale (*´ω`).

Important: if you are vegetarian, you might not be able to find anything vegetarian at the restaurant.

Nonohana Yakeyamaso (野の花焼山荘)

Nonohana Yakeyamaso Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

You have probably been to a Japanese traditional ryokan, but have you ever been to one that has tatami mats throughout the hotel?

We love the natural straw smell of tatami mats, and the feeling of walking on (or even lying on) one is fabulous!

This is the hotel that we highly recommend if you plan to stay at Yakeyama/Oirase Gorge Onsen (≧▽≦).

At Nonohana Yakeyamaso, apart from the usual table tennis corner, they also have a kids’ corner and aroma lamp (with four essential oils to choose from) that you can borrow from the reception for free!

Nonohana Yakeyamaso’s Onsen Facilities

  • During weekdays, their outdoor bathing area can be reserved for private uses (albeit not so cheap…)
  • If you’re travelling with infants, the hotel has equipment for babies to enjoy!
  • Just like Tsuta Onsen, the onsen facilities at Nonohana Yakeyamaso are shared between male and female guests. Specific timeslots are allocated to each gender. Please check with the reception for the timeslots to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments… (´▽`*)

For more details about the hotel, please refer to their English website HERE!

The one negative thing about this hotel is that they don’t cater to a vegetarian dietary, although you can still stay at the hotel with the meals excluded options (^_-)-☆.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Oirase Gorge Onsen Ski, Snowboard, and Spa Resort (奥入瀬渓流温泉スキー場)

When you visit Yakeyama area, if you love skiing or snowboarding, then don’t miss out on this awesome resort (no accommodation though)!

If you are coming during the warmer months, you will be able to stroll around the resort to enjoy walking in between the blossomed small flowers on the roadsides!

Oirase Gorge Onsen Ski, Snowboard & Spa Resort Ski Course
Photo from Aomori prefecture

How Much Does It Cost to Enjoy the Resort?

Whether you want to ski or snowboard, the equipment rental fee is 3,500 yen. To use the lift to get to the top of the course, it will cost you around 260 yen one-way for adults. For primary school students and people who are 60 years old and above is around 210 yen.

If you plan to use the lifts more than 6 times, then you might want to get a ticket valid for 4 hours. The cost is 1,570 yen for adults. For primary school students and people who are 60 years old and above is 1,150 yen).

Oirase Gorge Onsen Ski, Snowboard & Spa Resort Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

A 1-day ticket will cost you around 2,720 yen. For primary school students and people who are 60 years old and above is 2,200 yen). So it is time to do some forecasting of your energy level and maybe grab a calculator to see which lift tickets you want to purchase (´▽`*).

Winter nights are long as the resorts are opened from 9 am to 10 pm. If you plan on visiting at night via the night lift ticket then this may actually save you more money! The ticket will cost you 1,570 yen for adults. For primary school students and people who are 60 years old and above is 830 yen.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Your Guide to The Stunning Oirase Gorge

After arriving at Yakeyama, your scenic journey shouldn’t just stop there!

The 14 km Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) in Aomori prefecture is known as one of Japan’s most scenic spot. No matter which season you visit Oirase Gorge, you will definitely be amazed by its ethereal beauty (*´ω`).

Choshi-Falls-Oirase-Gorge-Aomori-Japan
Photo from https://www.photo-ac.com/

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